In an increasingly complicated and crazy world, a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino is a reminder that beauty exists. One of Italy's most celebrated wines, Brunello di Montalcino is produced in the relatively tiny Tuscan territory of Montalcino from the Sangiovese grape (named "Brunello" in Montalcino.) Only 15% of Montalcino's 24,000 hectares consist of vineyards but the exceptional wines they produce are coveted around the world. Elegant and expressive with impressive aging potential, Brunello di Montalcino pairs beautifully with food and elevates every meal and occasion. Brunello di Montalcino carries the DOCG classification which indicates the highest level of quality for Italian wine. After aging in oak casks (for at least 2 years) and in the bottle (at least 4 months, 6 for the Riserva), Brunello is available for sale on the 1st of January of the 5th year following harvest (6th year for the Riserva).
Giacomo Pondini, Managing Director of Consorzio Vino Brunello Montalcino, is a charming ambassador for this exceptional wine.
The annual Benvenuto Brunello tasting is one of the most exciting events on the wine trade calendar. Organized by the Consortium of the Brunello of Montalcino Wine, the event recently traveled to New York and Houston. Around fifty Brunello producers shared the newly released 2012 vintage which is being praised as a 5-Star Vintage for its unabashed prettiness, balance, and purity of fruit. Many producers also shared their Rosso di Montalcino which is also produced from Sangiovese but is available for sale on September 1 of the year following the vintage. Rosso di Montalcino is a delicious and more affordable way to experience a hint of Brunello. Expect to pay at least $50 for a bottle of Brunello and around $25-$30 for Rosso.
Benvenuto Brunello certainly reminded me of why I love this wine so much. Brunello di Montalcino displays beautiful fruit, floral, and earthy flavors and each producer's wine expresses these characteristics in unique ways. Here are a few highlights from the day and some recommended wines. Cheers!
Count Francesco Marone Cinzano of Col d'Orcia has me very tempted to write a novel that includes a dapper, distinguished, and down-to-earth producer of Brunello di Montalcino. With his dynamic personality and outstanding wines, the Count embodies the passion and sophistication of the area's winemakers. Col d'Orcia produces elegant and expressive organic wines at their vineyard whose name translates to "hill overlooking the Orcia River." Brunello di Montalcino is known to age beautifully and a sip of Col d'Orcia 1987 showcased how gracefully a well-crafted Brunello evolves.
Recommended Wines: Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 and Col d' Orcia Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2014
On my last trip to Tuscany, I could see the majestic Castello Banfi beckoning in the distance. Alas, my itinerary did not permit me to visit but I assure you that I will never let that opportunity pass me by again. A family-owned vineyard estate and winery, Castello Banfi was founded on the philosophy of blending tradition with innovation. The precision and expressiveness of their Brunello di Montalcino is a stellar representation of the varietal.
Recommended Wines: Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 and Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2012
The Brunello di Montalcino produced by Giovanni Neri at her Col di Lamo winery captures her personality: modern, sophisticated, and vibrant. Trained as a lawyer, Giovanna inherited her passion for wine from her father. Giovanni aims to showcase the feminine side of Brunello and her label even depicts a graceful female profile.
Recommended Wines: Col di Lamo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 and Col di Lamo Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2014
Lorenzo Magnelli, chief winemaker at Le Chiuse is truly a son of Montalcino - he is the great-great grandson of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi who is credited with creating Brunello di Montalcino in 1888. Lorenzo's award-winning wines beautifully honor his family's legacy and he gracefully balances tradition with innovations such as state-of the-art wine cellars.
Recommended Wines: Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 and Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2014